We did a lot of research before buying our tent. We’d rather get the best we can for the money we’re prepared to spend and setting up with all of our camping equipment did feel like a big investment. Not as much as a fortnight on a beach somewhere I’ll grant you, but it was still hundreds of pounds.
After much wandering round camping shop displays and reading reviews online we went for my first choice, a Vango Tigris 800XL. We bought it pre-loved from a couple who had used it only once. It came with a footprint, rather scratchy carpet, a porch, a couple of airbeds and a box of camping goodies.
Why did I want that tent? Well, with two growing children who don’t sleep when they have to share a room, I wanted them to have their own space. While they are only 3 and 5, they’re not gong to get any smaller, so a tent big enough to grow with us was a must.
Husband is a few millimetres shy of 6’2″, so a good amount of standing room was necessary in the living area at least. And a bedroom with one of those curtains to make it bigger or divide it seemed sensible, then we could all sleep together in one room if necessary. This proved a good choice when Mimi was scared of the thunderstorms and we were able to bring her in with us, air bed and all.
I also liked the tunnel tent design of the Vango as opposed to some of the pod-type tents. And the hydrostatic head – the amount it is waterproof – was also a consideration given the larger part of our camping will be done in the UK.
So far, so good
I have to say that, so far, we think we made the right choice. I’m only basing that on our two short trips away, but the tent has done everything we’ve needed it to – including standing up to some pretty impressive storms on our first trip and strong winds on our second.
There is enough space in the living area for a table, four chairs and our camp kitchen so when it rains we can cook and eat in the dry. The children enjoy having their own rooms and Husband and I like being able to move about a bit in our room. It hasn’t leaked, hasn’t blown down and has been quite easy to pitch in both wet and windy conditions for a pair of relative novices.
The tent we got came with a porch which we have so far failed to figure out how to attach. We’re hoping it will go on one of the sides as these are the doors we use most, but so far it looks like it might only attach to the door on one end – no use when there’s a bedroom in the way.
Practically the tent is well designed. It has a sewn-in groundsheet to stop water getting in, a little zip for an electric hook-up – although only on one side in our version – big windows, plenty of ventilation and three options for doors – one on each side and a big one on one end. It also has a little sticky-out shelter over one of the side doors, but as we’ve so far failed to put the relevant poles in without an incident, we’re giving that a miss for now.
We’ve never failed to get the tent back into the bag, which must be not much short of a miracle given that it’s been wet both times we’ve taken it down while camping.
OK, so the fact it fills our garden when we have to put it up to dry it is a bit of a pain, but it’s not the end of the world. We actually got it up, dried (including all guy ropes) and re-packed in just under three hours this weekend, so we’re getting better and the garden wasn’t out of commission for long.
Spares have been easy to get and surprisingly inexpensive at Go Outdoors, and after some helpful instructions from a member of staff there, Husband sorted out the snapped pole in about 15 minutes. We’ll now travel with a spare pole, elastic and some gaffer tape to be sure we can sort it on the spot next time.
If we’re going for a longer break next year I’d be tempted to invest in the canopy which would give us space to leave muddy shoes and wellies before getting into the tent itself. But for now that’s another investment that isn’t necessary (and if we can figure out how to attach the porch, that might do the job).
All in all we’re really pleased with our choice of tent and it has done everything we’ve needed it to so far. I’m looking forward to many more camping trips in it, even if Husband isn’t.